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Why do YOU translate into a non-native language?
ناشر الموضوع: TranslationCe

TranslationCe
Local time: 07:17
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Feb 18, 2016

My language combination (Italian to English) is not a rare one. There are plenty of native English translators available. I just had a quick look at the first 50 Kudoz questions in this combination. 19 were from native English speakers and 7 were from translators claiming to have two native languages (including English). 6 were from a translator with no information on his/her profile and the rest were from non-native speakers (mainly Italian but also Spanish, Ukranian and Arabic speakers). That'... See more
My language combination (Italian to English) is not a rare one. There are plenty of native English translators available. I just had a quick look at the first 50 Kudoz questions in this combination. 19 were from native English speakers and 7 were from translators claiming to have two native languages (including English). 6 were from a translator with no information on his/her profile and the rest were from non-native speakers (mainly Italian but also Spanish, Ukranian and Arabic speakers). That's a lot of translators working into a language they are not native in. I am genuinely interested to find out why. And also why agencies are choosing non-native translators over native ones. So I thought I would ask the Proz community. If you translate outside your native language (I'm not talking about rare language combinations here, as I can see why non-natives might be needed), could you tell me why? Is there more work? Is it better paid?

I'm looking forward to hearing opinions.


Jenny
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Tom in London
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I don't Feb 18, 2016

Q. Why do YOU translate into a non-native language?

A. I don't.

[Edited at 2016-02-18 10:43 GMT]


Annamaria Sondrio
 

Gerard de Noord  Identity Verified
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Lack of commercial Dutch to English translators Feb 18, 2016

Hi Jenny,

Because I never translate from Dutch to English commercially, I feel free to answer this question on behalf of Dutch colleagues who do. In the Dutch to English language pair the demand exceeds the offer. Not enough English native speakers are able and willing to translate from Dutch.

Cheers,
Gerard


Christine Andersen
Yaotl Altan
 

jeromeb
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For my former employer - now a direct client Feb 18, 2016

Sometimes, I do have to translate into German or English some easy stuff (e-mails or short technical reports for internal use), exclusively for a direct client which was my former employer. What matters here is that the message is correctly conveyed. And it concerns exclusively stuff for internal use (no publication).
My client is happy with this and I don't have to bother looking for native translators. Of course, for agencies, I would never translate into a language other than my mother
... See more
Sometimes, I do have to translate into German or English some easy stuff (e-mails or short technical reports for internal use), exclusively for a direct client which was my former employer. What matters here is that the message is correctly conveyed. And it concerns exclusively stuff for internal use (no publication).
My client is happy with this and I don't have to bother looking for native translators. Of course, for agencies, I would never translate into a language other than my mother tongue.

[Edited at 2016-02-18 11:22 GMT]
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Marie VITET
 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
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As an exercise Feb 18, 2016

For the heck of it - because in my religion it is NOT a mortal sin.

I do it for friends who can't pay.
I do it when there is no time to find a native to do it, and I can do it just as well. I live in it and speak it more in daily life than my native language. It feels to me like a second native language and I can't always stop myself.

I do actually seriously do it as an exercise, because it improves my translation the other way. Just as we did at school and
... See more
For the heck of it - because in my religion it is NOT a mortal sin.

I do it for friends who can't pay.
I do it when there is no time to find a native to do it, and I can do it just as well. I live in it and speak it more in daily life than my native language. It feels to me like a second native language and I can't always stop myself.

I do actually seriously do it as an exercise, because it improves my translation the other way. Just as we did at school and college.

But OK, calm down everyone, I never do it for my professional clients.

Luckily, I have plenty of colleagues who can translate both ways, and the results are fine.

As with Dutch, and many other languages, there are simply not enough English natives who can translate from Danish, and some of my clients are seriously worried when I say I am going to retire... So that is one reason why some Danes do it.
Another reason is that they are good at it, and their translations are absolutely fit for purpose.

Sounding like a native is very desirable, but it is not the be-all and end-all of translation. Understanding the source and rendering it accurately, with the correct terminology, is what really matters in many cases.
If the alternative is machine translation or no translation, then I know what I would go for...

So until there are enough English natives who can cover the need, they are going to have to live with people who translate into their foreign language and be grateful that many of them do it really well.



[Edited at 2016-02-18 11:14 GMT]
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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
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Because I'm good enough in it Feb 18, 2016

TranslationCe wrote:
That's a lot of translators working into a language they are not native in. I am genuinely interested to find out why.


In my case, I do it because I believe my English is "good enough". I don't actively seek out into-English jobs, but many of my from-English clients ask me to do it, likely because they trust me.

From a strictly theoretical point of view, my personal opinion is that translating from your native language makes more sense than translating into it. A translation into your non-native language may be less artsy but at least you know it will be dead accurate because you are less likely to misunderstand something in a source text written in your native language.

And also why agencies are choosing non-native translators over native ones.


I think it has to do with trust. If I have to choose between two translators -- one native and one non-native -- and the native translator gives off the wrong vibe, then I'd feel more comfortable with the non-native one, if I'm satisfied that the quality will be "good enough".


Chiara Foppa Pedretti
MollyRose
Christine Andersen
Bali D.
 

Ilan Rubin (X)  Identity Verified
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Depends on language combination Feb 18, 2016

It depends on the language combination and geographical location. In my combination (Ru>En) most translations are carried out by Russians, at least within Russia.

This is for two reasons:

(1) rates for Russians are much lower than for native English speakers (we are talking of 80-90% lower). I know that a lot of Moscow agencies use translators in the regions, in Ukraine and Belarus too, to get the price down to ridiculous levels.
We are talking the equivalent of
... See more
It depends on the language combination and geographical location. In my combination (Ru>En) most translations are carried out by Russians, at least within Russia.

This is for two reasons:

(1) rates for Russians are much lower than for native English speakers (we are talking of 80-90% lower). I know that a lot of Moscow agencies use translators in the regions, in Ukraine and Belarus too, to get the price down to ridiculous levels.
We are talking the equivalent of one (yes, ONE) UK pound per page in some cases! Russian clients who want reasonable quality at a low price go for this usually. Many of them can't tell the difference or they don't care, as the target audience doesn't often need native-speaker standard translations. Clients can then raise the quality to native or near native level by hiring native speaking editors. Some editors are better than others and the clients get what they pay for I suppose

(2) the dearth of native English translators who actually understand Russian. In my experience (many, many years) 95% of native English translators (I'm exaggerating, OK, it's actually 98%...) don't understand the Russian they are given to translate... At least the Russian translators usually do understand it.
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Adieu
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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
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Asking KudoZ questions so actively working Feb 18, 2016

TranslationCe wrote:
7 were from translators claiming to have two native languages (including English). 6 were from a translator with no information on his/her profile and the rest were from non-native speakers (mainly Italian but also Spanish, Ukranian and Arabic speakers).

Spanish, Ukrainian and Arabic native speakers translating from Italian to English? Crazy! Absolutely no justification at all for that. Not with so many native speakers around. It's quite likely that some of those seven supposedly totally bilingual translators don't have native-equivalent English either. Many who "speak very well English" claim it as a second string to their bow. Funnily enough, some of those with the highest level of English as a foreign language here on ProZ.com actually don't class themselves as native speakers.

And also why agencies are choosing non-native translators over native ones.

Occasionally, it will be a regular translator, translating normally into their native language. I'm sure some would agree to work in the opposite direction, hoping to keep the customer satisfied. Also, there are valid cases of a text needing specialist knowledge of the subject area. Hopefully in that case the Italian expert will ask a native target speaker to review the translation to ensure it reads naturally.

But the major factors from an agency's point of view must surely be easy availability and, above all, price.


 

Teresa Borges
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Neither do I! Feb 18, 2016

Tom in London wrote:

Q. Why do YOU translate into a non-native language?

A. I don't.

[Edited at 2016-02-18 10:43 GMT]


 

Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
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pragmatism Feb 18, 2016

Christine Andersen wrote:

I do it when there is no time to find a native to do it, and I can do it just as well. ... But OK, calm down everyone, I never do it for my professional clients.


I probably translate into German a maximum of two or three times a year, probably totalling a maximum of 1000 (!) words per year.

Unlike Christine, I do it for paying clients, but only if we are in the middle of a project and something comes up and needs to get done immediately. I just did something a few weeks ago (around 200 words), but I'm not sure I did anything at all in 2015.

However, 99% of the time there is no reason not to recommend the services of a German translator and I actively do so dozens of times a year.

While I agree that the vast majority of native-level translators are nothing of the kind (particularly in a high-stress situation, dealing with specialist texts, and under time pressure), I agree with Christine that there are a lot of very good non-native translators out there (and I would assume Samuel is one of them) and I also consider Ilan's point valid that market forces can provide translators with a good reason to translate out of their native language.

[Edited at 2016-02-18 12:25 GMT]

[Edited at 2016-02-18 12:27 GMT]


 

Andrea Halbritter  Identity Verified
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I don't Feb 18, 2016

I never do, but I think some language pairs are so rare that you have to. Think about any African language for instance. Would there be many German native speakers to be albe to translate from Kiswahili? I don't think so!

Bali D.
 

Doan Quang  Identity Verified
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Neither do I but...... Feb 18, 2016

Neither do I but......except for the texts that I am certainly able to deliver high-quality translation.

 

Diana Coada  Identity Verified
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Because Feb 18, 2016

1.
Christine Andersen wrote:
... because in my religion it is NOT a mortal sin.


and

2. No English native speakers know Romanian better than me. You can produce flawless target texts all you want, but if you don't understand the source...


Christine Andersen
 

Jo Macdonald  Identity Verified
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Everyone know beet ov Engleeesh Feb 18, 2016

I've noticed quite a few people posting here who claim to translate into English and I can't understand a word of what they're writing so there must be a market for Engleeesh.

The reason I don't translate into Italian or Spanish is because it takes too long and the results would never be as good as they would be if an Italian or Spanish translator did the job properly.
Imho


Adieu
 

Dylan Jan Hartmann  Identity Verified
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مشرف
Kudoz answers? Feb 18, 2016

TranslationCe wrote:

I just had a quick look at the first 50 Kudoz questions in this combination.


I believe this is where you're pretext is wrong. I often answer Kudoz questions and get scored correctly for English-Thai. I list this combination on my profile but would never accept a job into anything other than my native English.

If I were to work into my non-native language, I could never guarantee its accuracy, it would take too long to be financially viable and I really wouldn't enjoy it as much.

Answering Kudoz on the other hand is great fun!


Christine Andersen
 
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